St. Margaret's Committee
Agendas & Minutes
Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
- Chair - Vacant
- The St. Margaret’s Home
- Committee is currently not active. The property is maintained by Rec Park Staff and a volunteer.
- Consultant - John Kuhn
- Consultant - Doug Strawinski
- Secretary PT - Vacant
- Liaison - Bill O’Neill
St. Margaret's History
The story of St. Margaret’s properly begins with its founder and benefactress, Margaret Armstrong Astor. Raised for at least part of her childhood on the banks of the Hudson River, Margaret Armstrong was the daughter of Alida Livingston, whose ancestors had acquired vast tracts of Hudson Valley land in 1688, and General John Armstrong, who built Rokeby on a piece of that land. Another piece of that Livingston land would become the site for St. Margaret’s.
In 1818, Margaret Armstrong married the fabulously wealthy William Backhouse Astor. Aware of reform movements in large American cities and in an effort to do a “good work,” Mrs. Astor persuaded her husband in 1851 to buy a parcel of land from her brother and to establish in 1852 and 1853 the “St. Margaret’s Orphan Asylum.” Offering food and lodging to girls who either had no home or whose parents could not provide for them, St. Margaret’s also had on staff teachers who trained the girls in the “domestic arts,” such as cooking, sewing, ironing, etc. When the girls reached the age of sixteen, they were able to take positions in one of the large homes in the area or to marry.
Mrs. Astor funded St. Margaret’s until her death, and her descendants continued to support it for generations. When a combination of factors forced the institution to close in the 1930’s, the building became successively a welfare home, a private residence and finally a transitional living center, until that use too was terminated in the 1990s.
St. Margaret’s was built in the “Tuscan Villa” or Italianate style, with large French windows and first floor ceilings that rise nearly twelve feet. The fluted columns are cast iron, and the exterior window and door trim is brownstone. The walls are fourteen and a half inches thick. The architect who designed the building has not yet been identified, although it seems likely that he was well known at the time and that he had been commissioned by the Astors or members of their extended family for previous projects.
A Historic Landmark
An important building both historically and architecturally, St. Margaret’s was languishing until 2006 when Martin’s Foods, the parent company of Hannaford’s Supermarket, generously donated it together with nearly two acres of land to the Town of Red Hook. Within two years, the building was listed on both the State and the National Registers of Historic Places.